Your child’s first line of defense against tooth decay should always be regular brushing and flossing. However, there are extra preventive measures that can be taken to help protect his teeth. Dental sealants– which are plastic coatings placed on the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars– is one such measure. The permanent back teeth have numerous grooves which are sometimes very deep and narrow. So, even with diligent brushing, your child’s toothbrush might simply not be capable of thoroughly cleaning those hard-to-reach places. Thus, the molars and premolars are often particularly vulnerable to decay. If you haven’t already, talk to your dentist about whether or not sealants are a good option for your child’s teeth.
When should my child get sealants?
Typically, sealants are placed when the first permanent molar has erupted completely beyond the gums. The sealant is placed on the fissure of the first molar, thus protecting those tiny grooves from accumulating plaque. Molars and premolars continue to come in until children are approximately eleven to thirteen years old. As these teeth erupt beyond the gums, they can be sealed. Sometimes, dentists recommend sealing the chewing surfaces of primary teeth– more commonly known as baby teeth– if they have grooves.
What’s the sealing process like?
Fortunately, the sealing process is relatively simple and pain-free. First, the dentist or hygienist will clean the area with a paste and brush. The goal is to remove any plaque or food debris from the fissures. The tooth is then washed with water and dried off. Next, an acidic solution is placed on the fissured areas of the tooth. This solution creates a surface that is rougher than the tooth’s enamel, thus enabling the dentist or hygienist to attach the sealant to the tooth. After the liquid sealant is placed on the tooth using a brush, it’s hardened, either by using a light or two-component sealant that doesn’t require a light to harden. Once the sealant is hard, your child can chew on the treated tooth.
How long will my child’s sealant last?
Dental sealants– which have been used for over 40 years– are one of the most effective ways to protect your child’s teeth from decay. With proper oral hygiene, sealants typically last many years.
How should my child care for his sealants?
Sealants don’t need any special care beyond standard practices for good oral hygiene. You should encourage your child to:
- Brush regularly. Your child should brush his teeth at least twice a day– in the morning and before bedtime– with a fluoridated toothpaste and a soft bristle toothbrush..
- Floss daily. Encourage your child to floss at least once a day in order to remove debris from those spots that a toothbrush just can’t reach..
- Eat healthy foods. High sugar and high carb diets are practically an invitation for tooth decay. While these types of foods are fine in moderation, your child should make an effort to
- Drink plenty of water. It’s no secret that water is good for your child’s overall health, but it’s also an important part of his dental health. Water helps to wash away food debris in the mouth. Additionally, fluoride is added to many public water sources..
- Preventive dentistry. Good oral hygiene is established early on, so make sure your child visits his dentist for check-ups and professional cleanings twice a year.
We know how important your child’s health is to you, and that includes maintaining good oral health. To learn more about dental sealants or to discuss whether or not your child is a good candidate for sealants, contact us today.